Prices in Dubai's commercial property market may be bottoming out and are likely to be stable by the end of 2012, a new report has said.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said capital values, although still falling in Dubai, were showing signs of stabilisation in the first quarter of this year.
Its Q1 survey said the investor market saw sentiment improve significantly in the first three months of 2012 with 28 percent more respondents reporting a strong rebound in investment enquiries.
"This is a significant turnaround given the generally negative trend in enquiries over the last couple of years," RICS said in a statement.
Expected investment transactions also turned positive, with respondents more optimistic about the outlook in 2012.
Capital values, although still falling, did so at a much slower rate in Q1, the survey said.
"This could be indicative of commercial values starting to bottom out with a stabilisation in prices possible later in the year," it added.
Commenting on the Q1 survey results, Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: "Looking ahead, the rise in investor sentiment could reflect the UAE's status as a safe haven in the region, and the RICS availability of investment funds indicator turned positive this quarter.
"The continued political uncertainty in the Middle East region could lead to a sustained rise in investment inflows to the UAE in the coming year."
The survey also said occupier demand rebounded after falling for two consecutive quarters, with the turnaround led by the retail sector, which was the stand-out performer according to more than 41 percent of respondents.
Availability of commercial space continued to rise, and is continuing to exert downward pressure on rents, with rental value expectations remaining negative, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors poll added.
Respondents also said they saw "very little work" starting on new developments in the first quarter, continuing the trend seen over the past six months.
With almost three years of falling or flat development, rising levels of occupier demand throughout the course of 2012 could eventually feed through into falling levels of space and support rental growth expectations, the survey added.
However, the poll also indicated that there is still a supply overhang in the beleaguered office sector, where rents are expected to continue falling through 2012.